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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Pretext \Pre"text\ (?; 277), n. [F. pr['e]texte, L. praetextum, fr. praetextus, p. p. of praetexere to weave before, allege as an excuse; prae before + texere to weave. See Text.] Ostensible reason or motive assigned or assumed as a color or cover for the real reason or motive; pretense; disguise. [1913 Webster] They suck the blood of those they depend on, under a pretext of service and kindness. --L'Estrange. [1913 Webster] With how much or how little pretext of reason. --Dr. H. More. [1913 Webster] Syn: Pretense; excuse; semblance; disguise; appearance. See Pretense. [1913 Webster]